I may be alone in this, but I hate the word gardening. It makes the process sound like a hobby rather than what it is. Come on, admit it. Gardening is a way of life. You’re taking on responsibility for living things and that means ushering them through the cycle of the year.
I got into growing things because of a film I saw about America’s over-reliance on oil, and how the best safeguard against starvation is to learn to grow your own food. I’m aware I’m paranoid about some things, but in this case, calming my fears also turned out to be the right thing to do from a practical point of view. It’s great exercise and you’re rewarded with food that costs a small fortune to buy.
My problem is I hate weeding, and a lot of the other details that go into gardening. So I decided early on that if I couldn’t eat it, I wouldn’t plant it. Life’s too damned short to pull weeds around a flower that does nothing but look pretty. I had however, planted some Foxglove, and I remembered a song about a father who poisons one of his children with foxglove. That made the plant a wee bit more interesting.
So I expanded my rule for planting … I would plant flowers, if there was a story around them. It was also around this time that I had re-read the Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe. For those who haven’t read it, it’s a tale of modern day Marblehead and old Salem, and included quite a bit on witchy plants and colonial era herbalism. While working on a driving tour of sites associated with the book, Ms. Howe turned me on to a book she used for reference, A Witch’s Guide to Gardening by Dorothy Jacob.
If you’ve been to one of my other sites, you’ll know I have a soft spot in my heart for all things creepy. You should also know that from researching and writing about witchcraft for quite some time, I’m fully aware that most witchy plants were either plants used to do good, or what information we have about these plants came from the same kind of folks that gave us the inquisition. In short, at best much of what we know about witchcraft and plants is folklore.
Witchcraft is a broad definition. What got you burned in the 16th century is now available in the Farmer’s Almanac. When it came to gardening, as well as things like getting a tooth pulled, my sweet, grey-haired granny was a witch. With that in mind, witchcraft runs through my blood.
In the end, I believe witchcraft, as well as organized religion of all stripes exists in large part to help us grasp the cycles of nature. Religion is to some extent a way of putting into words that which defies words. Many of the world’s main religions do little to put us contact with natural world, being more focused on what we do in society.
But the right plant can be the tool that puts you in touch with the natural rhythm of the world, and with mysteries of the past. What Gardening For Witch’s attempts to do, is show you my own experiments with witchy plants, herbal potions and few lethal goodies. Hopefully it can answer a few questions, and point you in new directions.
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